Proposed housing study expected to address needs in Kewaunee County

KEWAUNEE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - UPDATE: The Kewaunee County Board tabled a request to do a housing study in the county. The board approved forming a committee and would like a round table discussion on the topic.

The Kewaunee County Board will look at conducting a housing study to address its needs.

The measure is expected to come before the board again in October.
________________________

“Is there a need for more housing in Algoma or Kewaunee or in Luxemburg? What are those housing prices? What's the age of the current stock that we have?” asked Scott Feldt, Kewaunee County administrator.

Those are some of the questions he and other county leaders are hoping to get answered through a housing study.

“I was always taught that a healthy housing economy is about a 5% vacancy rate; and so, my guess is Kewaunee County is down in less than 1%,” said Richard Baker, executive director of the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corporation (KCEDC).

Baker says landlords in don't need to try hard to find tenants.

"The manager of the rental property that I'm at said he never has to advertise,” said Baker.

While that may be good for renters, it's not so good for employers who are having trouble finding workers to fill vacant jobs.

One example is Luxemburg. County officials are seeing job growth there and it's an attractive place to live due to its proximity to Green Bay, but the problem is, where are people going to live?

“Houses are selling at or above -- mostly above -- asking prices. So, we have a shortage going on there in large part because of the quality of schools and our manufacturers,” said Baker.

That's one reason why Feldt is asking the county board to approve conducting a study of the county's housing needs.

“The housing study isn't an affordable housing study, it's just a housing study, as to what type of housing is there, what type of housing prices are people looking for,” said Feldt.

According to a 2012 Kewaunee County Quality of Life Report, 46% of the housing stock was built before 1960 and not much new construction has happened since.

“The county's population has remained flat for decades, like 50 years,” explains Feldt.

Which has resulted in an aging workforce and a need to attract a younger one.

"50 to 80% of our workforce will retire within the next 10 years,” said Baker.

To bring in new workers, the county will need to figure out where those people would potentially live.

“We provide them with the housing that they need, and along with that the amenities that they desire as well,” said Feldt.

The Kewaunee County board will take up the request to do a housing study at its meeting on Tuesday, August 20.

The study would be conducted by Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission and would cost about $12,000.